To read on University of Wisconsin website:
UW-Stevens Point students help cheerleaders with special needs
While bringing smiles to the faces of crowds at basketball and football games, some members of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Cheer and Stunt Team are also bringing smiles to a special group of young people.
They are among local cheerleaders who work with the Wisconsin Extreme Dream Team, a group that offers cheerleading experiences to those with special needs. The volunteers perform with the team in competitions as well as at local schools and events, building their skills and confidence.
Among the 19 volunteers from UW-Stevens Point are Elisa Dyer, a first-year biochemistry major from Theresa, and Nicole Weis, a junior health promotion/wellness major from Marshfield. Both agree that the hour they spend practicing Sunday nights with « the dreamers » at the Storm All Star gym in Stevens Point is the best hour of their week.
« The moment you come to practice, instantly your mood is changed, » said Dyer. « The dreamers give us hugs and have huge smiles on their faces. »
The volunteers work with dreamers one-on-one, said Weis. Some are in wheelchairs, while others have autism or Down syndrome, so learning to communicate with each other is important.
« We let them show us what they can do, and encourage them as much as possible, » Weis said.
The Extreme Dream Team was co-founded six years ago by Sue Poeschl and Danielle Johnson. Poeschl, a retired math teacher at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, has coached the Dream Team for the last three years.
Dyer and Weis heard about the team from their coaches and have been involved since their first practice with the dreamers.
« The volunteers make a difference in the lives of these athletes, » said Poeschl. « They do not treat them as ‘special,’ rather they treat them as cheerleaders. »
Poeschl added that the volunteers held the athletes perform spotted back handsprings, one legged stunts and basket tosses.
For more information on the Wisconsin Extreme Dream Team, contact [email protected].
On the WSAW website, you could also read:
Wisconsin Dream Team practices for ‘America’s Got Talent’ audition next month